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How safe are elevators?

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Have you ever wondered how safe lifts actually are?

Almost every time we enter a lift, we ask ourselves this question.

The thought of entering an elevator does cause apprehension in a lot of people, but are these worries justified?

Certainly, no one enjoys the idea of maybe falling into darkness or even being trapped inside the cabin, especially those who are claustrophobic.

But how likely is it that this will occur? VERY FEW is the response.

The ROPE, which support the cabin, are calculated with very high safety factors, it is important to note.

In the extremely unlikely event that they were to malfunction, the lift would be stopped by a so-called parachute that could do so in a matter of seconds.

If you’re still not convinced, we present some data below.

In contrast to the 1,600 incidents involving stairs, the Center for Health Statistics notes that there are 27 deaths per year in the US connected to elevators.

According to study done by the insurance company C.A. Broker during the years 2010 to 2015, only 8 catastrophic or fatal accidents occurred in Italy out of a sample that included 13% of all lift vehicles nationwide.

The same source also states that 22.7% of accidents involved hitting the automated door when shutting it, and 45.3% of accidents involved tripping due to stairs generated between the car threshold and the landing on the ground.

Modern vehicle dynamics control systems have eliminated the bumping issues that existed with stationary lifts.

Similar to this, all contemporary elevators have photocell barriers in the doors that instantly stop movement when a passenger enters.

Through focused modernization, these systems can be easily integrated into current systems if required.

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Burj Khalifa, Dubai

Faster, higher and more impressive lifts

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Curiosities around the world

The first lift dedicated to transporting people was built by Elisha Otis in 1857 in New York. It was built on five floors and its speed was 12 metres per minute.

Today, 165 years later, the fastest lift in the world travels at 72 km/h, or 20 metres per second, and it is the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre in China. The latter has 111 floors, reaches a height of 530 metres and is considered a rocket lift with a magnet motor. 

When it comes to the world’s tallest lifts with a height of 830 metres, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai takes first place and takes only 1 minute and 24 seconds to reach the top floor.

It took six years and $1.5 billion to build this skyscraper; it was inaugurated in 2010 and has achieved multiple firsts including being the world’s tallest building with 163 floors.

With 128 floors and a height of 632 metres, the Shanghai Tower takes second place. It is considered the tallest building in China and reaches a speed of 69 km/h.

In third place, the Taipei 101 made by Toshiba is considered one of the world’s tallest lifts with a height of 508 metres and taking about 30 seconds to reach the top.

When it comes to spectacular lifts, among the first ones not to be missed are the Bailong lift in China and the AquaDom in Berlin.

The former, also known as the Hundred Dragons Elevator, is located in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan, China.

It is famous for being the world’s tallest outdoor lift, reaching 326 metres, made of glass and built on a cliff. The Bailong offers a breathtaking view of China’s famous natural park.

Last but not least, the second lift that stands out is located inside the AquaDom, Berlin‘s cylindrical aquarium. This glass-fronted lift allows visitors to take a closer look at the aquarium’s fauna, moving even into the deepest areas.

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  1. Elisha Otis‘ invention of safety parachutes on March 23, 1857, transformed a service elevator into a mode of public transportation, giving rise to the first lift. The initial models used furniture and chandeliers to replicate real spaces. At a speed of 12 meters per minute, comfort became essential. In the early systems, the lift was moved by a human “driver” or manoeuvreman, who was signaled with a simple whistle.
  2. They provided access to the higher floors for the nobility, who let the servants use of the stairs. Noble families started to favor the top floors once they were born because they liked the view from above, which is how penthouses got their name.
  3. Some lifts, like the one at Taipei 101, may travel up to 60.6 km/h even though the usual speed is 1 m/s. The 89 floors of Taiwan’s skyscrapers may be reached in 40 seconds. To keep passengers’ ears from becoming uncomfortable at such high speeds, an interior air pressure adjustment system, similar to that of an aircraft, has been installed.
  4. Unfortunately, many people who have fears like claustrophobia still find it to be a terrifying place. Potential passengers start to feel uneasy and start to sweat when they think of being cooped up in a small space with strangers or, worse, by themselves.
  5. It’s shocking, but true, the elevator can turn into a private space for intercourse once the cabin doors are closed. As long as the cabin remains unglazed, this has been recognized by the Court of Cassation in principle (Cass. 10060/2001).
  6. Generally speaking, being in a small place can lead to an awkward silence that is typically broken by the so-called “elevator pitch” or lift speech. This corporate term is used to describe brief but impactful presentations that convey one’s thoughts throughout the brief duration of a lift trip.
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